Irish Lamb Stew

Traditional Irish lamb stew with vegetables in a Dutch oven with a rustic wooden spoon in the pot and sprigs of parsley nearby

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
647 Calories
28g Fat
38g Carbs
58g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 647
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 164mg 55%
Sodium 853mg 37%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 58g
Vitamin C 15mg 75%
Calcium 81mg 6%
Iron 6mg 35%
Potassium 1694mg 36%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When you conjure up thoughts of Ireland, you likely think of sloping thatched-roof houses with gardens in front and huge fireplaces in rooms where the owners take refuge from Ireland's frequent rain. And on the table, by the fire, you would probably find Irish stew, a regular one-pot meal. Rustic, simple, and hearty, there's no one true recipe for the stew. It has evolved and adapted over time and different places, but it's usually made with lamb, onions, and potatoes. Other ingredients have been added or replaced over time; originally the stew was made with mutton—older animals with tougher and fattier meat—but nowadays lamb's shoulder seems to be the go-to cut. It was also made without potatoes, as these came to Ireland only in the 16th century when they were brought over from South America.

Each family has a favorite variation, but most people like to add carrots. Parsnips, peas, turnips, or celery can also appear, and even Guinness is added in some versions. Our recipe has tasty bacon and bacon fat to add an extra layer of flavor to the broth.

In traditional fashion, make this stew the day before and refrigerate overnight, as it is even better reheated. The flavors have time to blend together more, which results in a more flavorful dish. Accompany your meal with a loaf of good soda bread. Some pickles and sauerkraut can complement the earthy and bold flavors of the lamb. This recipe appears in "The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors" by Jeff Smith.


Click Play to See This Authentic Irish Lamb Stew Recipe Come Together


  • 1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon, diced

  • 6 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or as needed

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cups store-bought or homemade beef stock

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 4 cups chopped carrots (1-inch pieces)

  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • Chopped parsley, garnish

  • 1 loaf soda bread, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Irish lamb stew recipe gathered

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  2. In a large frying pan, sauté the bacon. Drain the fat and reserve both the bacon and the fat.

    Finely diced bacon being sautéed in a large frying pan

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  3. In a large mixing bowl, place the lamb, salt, pepper, and flour. Toss to coat the meat evenly.

    Lamb cubes evenly coated with seasoned flour in a bowl

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  4. Without cleaning, reheat the frying pan you used to fry the bacon. In batches, brown the lamb in the reserved bacon fat. If you run out of fat, use some of the vegetable oil.

    Lamb cubes being browned in a single layer in a large frying pan

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  5. Transfer the browned meat to a 10-quart stovetop casserole, leaving about 1/4 cup of fat in the frying pan.

    Browned lamb cubes in a Dutch oven

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  6. Add the garlic and the chopped yellow onion to the pan and sauté until the onion begins to color a bit.

    Minced garlic and onion being sautéed in a large frying pan

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  7. Add the garlic-onion mixture to the casserole, along with the reserved bacon pieces, beef stock, and sugar.

    Garlic-onion mixture, bacon, stock, and sugar added to lamb cubes in a Dutch oven

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  8. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the lamb is tender.

    Irish lamb stew with cooking liquid being stirred in a Dutch oven

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  9. Add the carrots, the sliced onions, potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and wine to the pot and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed.

    Potatoes, carrots, and aromatics added to the Dutch oven

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  10. Top with the parsley garnish before serving and accompany with soda bread.

    Irish lamb stew with potatoes and carrots in a dinner bowl

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  11. Enjoy.

What Is the Difference Between a Stew and an Irish Stew?

What mainly sets the Irish stew apart from other stews is that it is, in origin, made with very few ingredients, like lamb, potatoes and carrots. Nowadays, the recipes have many more ingredients, but the true base is a humble and simple one-pot meal. Besides the number of ingredients, what differentiates Irish stews from other similar preparations is that they're thickened by the starch in the potatoes, and not by a roux. Even if adding a slurry of flour and cooled broth from the stew would thicken the consistency, Irish stews rarely rely on this trick.